Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 12:00 PM
What's unusual about this contemporary ballet company, the reason you should go out of your way to see them, is DEEP, DEEP pockets full of (evil?) Wal-Mart money.
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet was founded by billionaire Wal-Mart heiress Nancy Walton Laurie. Her money/generous support has allowed this company to hire not only excellent dancers, but excellent contemporary choreographers from Europe. For Cleveland audiences, ourselves included, contemporary choreography from Europe is a more › rare sight, like a glimpse of the dark side of the moon.
And surprise! These contemporary European choreographers are not only cool, hip, and au courant. They are also entertaining and accessible as you'll see for yourself with links we provide to YouTube clips. Video is not live performance but we're going to see Cedar Lake live with high hopes for a good show.
Cedar Lake's two performances in Cleveland will feature three dances from its eclectic repertoire.
"Indigo Rose" is a software package, a purple tomato exceptionally high in anthocyanins, and a dance originally choreographed by Jiri Kylian for Nederlands Dans Theater in 1998 and first performed by Cedar Lake in 2013.
Cleveland dance audiences have seen some of Kylian's choreography over the years, but we expect the Cedar Lake dancers to put a particularly clean balletic finish on many of Kylian's movements, showing feet fully pointed and the knees stretched straight. See video of Cedar Lake dancers performing Indigo Rose here and here. Do you like the undulant, white backdrop as much as we do?
Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue, was created for Cedar Lake by Crystal Pite, a Canadian citizen who danced for many years with Ballett Frankfurt under the direction of American-born William Forsythe, sometimes known as the Antichrist of ballet. Pite and Forsythe were 2 of the many, many North American dancers and choreographers who elected to work in Europe, an article in itself.
If there's anyone who understands and successfully applies Forsythe's ideas about dance, it's Pite. She figured prominently in Forsythe's CD-ROM, Improvisation Technologies, and is considered an important exponent of his theories of choreography. But perhaps the best advice for watching Forsythe or Pite is Anna Kisselgoff's, "Forget the theories and watch the movement."
Again, check out the video here and here to see why we say that Ten Duets is an eye-full of fast, fluid contact partnering. In the video, we see the Cedar Lake dancers give every line that balletic finish. Join us in putting on night-vision-goggles-just-in-case while watching Ten Duets in the Ohio Theater; Forsythe is infamous for messing around with lighting and Pite has followed in her mentor's footsteps here, surrounding her dancers with lighting instruments that go off and on in no discernible pattern.
In Horizons by Greek choreographer Andonis Foniadakis we see less ballet finish but plenty of contemporary drive. See video of Horizons here. We're impressed by the speed with which the dancers can coordinate arm circles in one plane with full body turns in another. This is exciting, skillful dancing, not flailing.
When we first heard about Cedar Lake, the little dance company with deep pockets, we flashed back to the train wreck known as Harkness Ballet which was just winding down when Vic arrived in NYC in 1974. "Money can buy anything," Rebecca Harkness had famously said, but all the big name dancers and choreographers she hired did not buy her a dance company worth watching and Harkness Ballet folded in ignominy despite tens of millions of her dollars down the tubes.
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet provides a happier narrative, evidence that money well spent can produce dance well worth watching. We at CoolCleveland.com believe in supporting local enterprises, but we also believe in billionaires giving back with enterprises like Cedar Lake. Catherine de Medici, Philip Morris, the Ford Foundation, the Soviet Union; we might not like how they got their money or what else they do with it but sometimes, just sometimes, they finance some good or even great art.
Audiences are cautioned that there will be partial nudity in the Saturday evening performance, but not in the matinee.
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet performs at the Ohio Theatre in PlayhouseSquare at 8pm Sat 1/25 and 3pm Sun 1/26/2014 presented by DANCECleveland. Tickets, starting at $20, can be purchased at the PlayhouseSquare ticket office, 216-241-6000 or online at http://dancecleveland.org.
Catch free pre-performance talks in the theatre 45 minutes before each of the performances. A post-performance moderated Q&A session with members of the company will immediately follow each show.
Several master classes will be conducted by company members prior to the performances. A teen contemporary ballet master class for ages 12-18 will be held on Fri 1/24 from 6-7:30 p.m. in the green rehearsal hall at PlayhouseSquare. It will be conducted by Cedar Lake dancer Billy Bell, known to many for his appearances on television's So You Think You Can Dance program.
On Sat 1/25 from 11am – 12:30pm a contemporary pre-professional / professional level master class will be held at Cleveland State University's studios in the Middough Building on the fifth floor. Participants are required to register in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 216-991-9000.
Victor Lucas and Elsa Johnson
RELATED COMPANY: Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet
Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 12:00 PM
It's all too easy in dance to specialize, to dwell on one form at the expense of all others.
But at Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, dabbling in other arenas isn't just permitted. It's encouraged as a means of gaining talent, experience and perspective.
Hence the many company biographies that include not only degrees from world-class dance schools but also appearances on hit TV programs and work alongside the likes of Beyoncé.
"Most people more › feel like they have to do one or the other," said Cedar Lake dancer Ebony Williams, noting the divide between commercial and artistic pursuits. "But it's possible to do both, in a little bit of a potluck."
Williams is living proof of that claim. An eight-year member of Cedar Lake, the cutting-edge, New York-based troupe heading to PlayhouseSquare this week on the DanceCleveland series, she's also one of Beyoncé's "single ladies" and a dancer with pop stars Rihanna, Ciara and Fergie.
But while her days are long and calendar packed, Williams said she loves the contrast. That's why she joined Cedar Lake, in fact, a company that prides itself on choreographic diversity: to be several dancers in one.
She saw eclectic programs like the one headed here – featuring works by Jiri Kylian, Crystal Pite and Andonis Foniadakis – and chose Cedar Lake without reservation over the more famous Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal and Cirque du Soleil.
"I go from classical [ballet] to modern [dance], and the next minute I'm with Beyoncé," Williams said. "It challenges me to be schizophrenic, to think on my feet. It helps me grow. I'm known to a wider audience, and I'm not just dancing for dancers."
More widely known still may be Williams' Cedar Lake colleague, Billy Bell. Before joining the company in 2012, he rose to the top five and toured the country with the popular TV show "So You Think You Can Dance." He's also appeared in music videos and launched a collective for aspiring dancers.
Specialization isn't what got him so far. Rather, Bell said he had to be the ultimate chameleon, to be interested in all forms of dance and view every opportunity as a learning experience.
"I just approached all of it as movement," Bell said, recalling his days on TV. "I just kind of mimicked the choreographer."
It's a lesson he still applies at Cedar Lake, the company he sought out post-graduation after witnessing a performance at his Florida high school that opened his eyes to the artistic possibilities of dance.
What's more, it's a lesson he actively tries to teach others at the master-classes he leads when the company tours, and will present here Jan. 24 and 25. Being open-minded and dancing outside the box aren't just fun. They're practically required.
"You can always pick something up," Bell noted. "I find it inspiring. It gives you a different perspective. I think the two worlds really do complement each other."
Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer
RELATED COMPANY: Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet
Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 12:00 PM
Temperatures have become milder but guests are still invited to "Drive the Cold Winter Away" in a program of ballads from Old England by Apollo's Fire, beginning Wednesday at First United Methodist Church in Akron.
The program, to be held at 7:30 p.m. at 263 E. Mill St., will feature Grammy Award-winning lutenist Ronn McFarlane and soprano Meredith Hall. They will perform haunting laments of John Dowland and Henry Purcell, contrasting more › with hilarious ballads.
Apollo's Fire promises a cozy evening, followed by "fireside" chats with the musicians afterward over hot cider and coffee. The concert runs 90 minutes, and will be repeated Jan. 23-24 at Rockefeller's Restaurant in Cleveland Heights, St. Paul's Episcopal Church on Jan. 25 in Cleveland Heights and Rocky River Presbyterian Church in Rocky River on Jan. 26.
Tickets cost $21. Students may attend the Akron performance for free, thanks to the GAR Foundation. For more information, call 216-320-0012 or see www.apollosfire.org.
McFarlane will give a talk one hour before each concert, sponsored by Friends of Apollo's Fire.
Celebration of the Arts
Supporters of the Akron School for the Arts, the Akron Public Schools visual and performing arts program housed at Firestone High School, are invited to the fourth annual "A Celebration of the Arts" at 6 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Akron Civic Theatre. The event, hosted by Friends of the Akron School for the Arts, will include heavy hors d'oeuvres by chef Jeffrey Winer, desserts, cash bar, silent auction, 50/50 raffle, and performances and displays by students.
Billy Soule will emcee the event. Friends Board President George Bozeka said the fundraiser comes at an exciting time, as the Akron School for the Arts looks forward to having a separate wing when the new Firestone/Litchfield Community Learning Center opens in 2015/2016.
Proceeds provide scholarships for arts graduates, support visiting artists and master classes, and help purchase classroom equipment. Cost for the event is $50, $80 for couples. To RSVP, send checks, payable to Friends of the Akron School for the Arts, to Friends of the Akron School for the Arts c/o Sally Childs, 861 Hampton Ridge Drive, Akron, OH 44313. Call 330-865-6975 for more information.
Ballet in Cleveland
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet will make its Cleveland debut Jan. 25-26 with two performances at the Ohio Theatre at PlayhouseSquare. The hot New York City-based company, which was founded 10 years ago, will perform Indigo Rose by Jiri Kylian, Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue by Canadian Crystal Pite and Horizons by Greek choreographer Andonis Foniadakis. The performances will be presented by DANCECleveland.
Shows will be at 8 p.m. Jan. 25 and 3 p.m. Jan. 26. The evening show will contain partial nudity but the matinee will not. Tickets start at $20. Call 216-241-6000 or see www.dancecleveland.org.
Free pre-performance talks will be given at 7:15 p.m. Jan. 25 and 2:15 p.m. Jan. 26. Moderated question-and-answer sessions with the company also will follow each show.
Local dancers interested in master classes with company members may email email@example.com or call 216-991-9000. There's a teen contemporary ballet master class from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24 at PlayhouseSquare, and a contemporary pre-professional/professional class from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Jan. 25 at Cleveland State University's Middough Building. Company member Billy Bell of So You Think You Can Dance TV fame will lead the teen class.
Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, January 16th, 2014 12:00 PM
World class dance will grace the Ohio Theatre stage for two performances on January 25 and 26, when the hot New York City-based dance company Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet comes to town, presented by DANCECleveland.
"This groundbreaking contemporary company will be making its Ohio debut," shares Pam Young, DANCECleveland executive director. "This extremely talented dance company works with some of the best and brightest European dance makers whose work is more › rarely seen in the United States."
Cedar Lake has become a premier company in New York thanks to its roster of technically strong dancers, movement styles ranging from ballet to modern to hip-hop, and renowned work by A-list choreographers. The New York Times calls the company "possibly the country's most innovative ballet troupe."
DANCECleveland has wanted to bring the company to Cleveland for nearly four years but their worldwide touring made securing a date impossible -- until now. The three pieces that the company will perform at the Ohio Theatre will showcase an immense range of contemporary movement from three world-renowned dance makers: Jiri Kylian, Crystal Pite and Andonis Foniadakis, and will highlight the talents of this remarkable company of 16 dancers.
Tickets start at $20 for the 8 p.m. Saturday performances and the 3 p.m. Sunday matinee. Tickets can be purchased online here. Audiences should be cautioned there is partial nudity in the Saturday evening performance, but not in the matinee.
Prior to both performances company members will conduct master classes. Also, a teen contemporary ballet master class for ages 12-18 will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. on Friday, January 24 in the Green Rehearsal Hall in PlayhouseSquare, while a pre-professional master class will be held from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on January 25 at Cleveland State University's Middough Building on the fifth floor. Participants are asked to register in advance by calling 216-991-9000.
"The world has fallen in love with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet -- and now it is Cleveland's turn," Young concludes.
Fresh water Cleveland
RELATED COMPANY: Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet
Monday, January 6th, 2014 12:00 PM
A Cleveland Foundation effort aimed at helping local arts organizations find new ways of drumming up business appears to be working, and the foundation is putting more money behind the initiative.
In 2012, the foundation awarded $15,000 grants - risk capital, if you will - to several cash-strapped nonprofits to experiment with audience-engagement efforts they otherwise couldn't have afforded. Now, the foundation is doling out even larger grants to scale more › the initiatives that have shown the most promise.
Last month, the foundation awarded $200,000 to Cleveland Public Theatre and $80,000 to DANCECleveland for their respective projects, and other sizable grants could be on the way.
"All of these non-attenders, if you will, that we're trying to attract haven't seen the arts as something they participate in," said Kathleen Cerveny, the foundation's director of institutional learning and arts initiatives. "We saw that as one of the biggest challenges of the arts going forward."
This year will mark the final phase the foundation's Engaging the Future initiative, which the foundation quietly launched in 2011 as a way to cultivate new audiences in order to keep arts organizations vital for years to come.
The initial phase focused on providing operating support to the 11 organizations involved and workshops designed to help them adapt their business models to the current economic climate. The second phase was focused on providing seed money for the engagement efforts. Now, the foundation is looking to build up some of those projects.
"What's happening at the Cleveland Foundation around Engaging the Future is incredibly rare, and it's visionary," said Raymond Bobgan, Cleveland Public Theatre's executive artistic director. "One of the biggest problems with the arts across the country is the lack of ability to borrow money for innovation and the entrepreneurial side of things. This allows us to the make the kind of investment a for-profit would already be making."
Cleveland Public Theatre's initiative - dubbed Cultural Engagement Continuum - is a training and outreach program for specific cultural communities. The idea is to grow actors from the community who are of the ethnic population represented on stage.
The prototype for the initiative was Teatro Publico de Cleveland, which cultivated actors from Cleveland's Latino community. The first production, "Cuando Cierras Your Eyes," debuted in November to sell-out crowds. The recent grant will let the theater expand the project, allowing for a full production schedule for its 2014-2015 season, which will expand into highlighting other ethnic communities.
"We have to diversify our audience," Mr. Bobgan said. "We know that people come to see a show because they're being represented or they can relate to what's on stage. We're opening up to a whole new audience."
DANCECleveland's project created a 15-member street team of sorts for the local dance company. The team was comprised of dancers, choreographers, teachers and other dance professionals who worked their own personal networks to publicize DANCECleveland's events.
Besides the latest influx of Cleveland Foundation money, the project attracted dollars from the Doris Duke Foundation to help dance companies across the country replicate it.
"Most people don't have a personal relationship with dance," said Pamela Young, DANCECleveland's executive director. "Our own community of dancers, dance educators and choreographers are so dedicated and any information they share more broadly with the community is going to build a new respect for this art form."
TIMOTHY MAGAW, Craine's Cleveland Business